A ballistic Devon Conway knock and an all-round performance from the New Zealand bowlers helped the hosts beat Australia comfortably in the first T20I in Christchurch.
New Zealand recovered from 19/3 to set Australia a target of 185, thanks to Conway hammering a 59-ball 99*. Thereafter, their bowlers dismantled the Australian top order to set them on their way to an easy victory, with Ish Sodhi then returning 4/28 to run through the lower order.
The result gave New Zealand a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Australia had opted to bowl, and it seemed the correct decision after their bowlers made an explosive start. Martin Guptill’s woes in the middle continued as his thick edge off Daniel Sams flew to point, and he had to walk back for nought. Jhye Richardson sent in a yorker a couple of overs later, which took out Tim Seifert’s off stump, and when captain Kane Williamson became Sams’ second wicket in the next over, New Zealand were in trouble at 19/3.
That New Zealand recovered from such a state was a credit to Conway and Glenn Phillips. The duo put on a 74-run stand, and while they were a tad watchful at the start of their association, they didn’t miss an opportunity to score big. Conway whipped a six off his pads for his first boundary, and ensured there was a boundary almost every over thereafter.
Phillips got into the act soon enough as well, picking Adam Zampa for sixes in the 11th over, and their partnership took New Zealand’s total to the 90s. Phillips then fell to Marcus Stoinis, a slower ball proving his undoing, but that didn’t stop Conway, who brought up his half-century off just 36 balls later that over. He couldn’t be dislodged, putting on 47 with Jimmy Neesham and then 44* with Mitchell Santner, all the while plundering the bowlers.
Conway was unfortunate not to bring up his maiden T20I century – the innings ended with him stranded on 99* – but his belligerence gave New Zealand a firm foundation. Their bowlers ensured they capitalised, as Australia started their chase poorly, and never really recovered.
Southee and Boult took two wickets apiece in the first five overs, with Southee having Australia captain Aaron Finch caught in the very first over of the innings. Boult then had Josh Philippe top-edging one for another easy catch.
The explosive Matthew Wade was muted in this innings, scoring a run-a-ball 12 before falling to Boult in his next over, before Southee, in his third over, had Glenn Maxwell edging one to slip for 1. Australia were 19/4, and in all sorts of trouble.
Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis then helped Australia recover briefly, putting on a steady 37 in a little over four overs, with Stoinis playing a defensive 11-ball knock of 8. Unfortunately for Australia, he couldn’t make the most of the foundation, pushing a return catch to Sodhi. Halfway through the innings, Australia had lost half their side and still needed a daunting 122 more runs to win.
They still showed some fight, with Marsh taking the attack to the New Zealand bowlers. He scored a 33-ball 45, hammering five fours and two sixes en route, but when he was dismissed by Kyle Jamieson, with Santner taking a sharp catch at backward point, the sting was taken out of the visitors. In the next over, Sodhi had Sams and Ashton Agar dismissed within three balls, and he added the scalp of Richardson to the list in his next over.
Australia were eventually bowled out in 17.3 overs, and New Zealand had a well-deserved 1-0 series lead.
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